DIY Hydroponics

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DIY Hydroponics - How to Build a Top Feed Hydroponics System

Building a top feed system yourself is really easy and can save you a little money over the cost of a prebuilt kit. Dont be afraid to shop around for a kit however as sometimes they can work out to be the cheaper option as your hydroponics supplier may not apply the same mark up as he would on the sale of individual components. If your like me and just love to do it yourself then the cost becomes a minor factor. This example build uses components that can be purchased at most hydroponics suppliers.

The unit we are going to assemble in this section is a three pot top feed and we are going to include an overview of constructing an aluminium frame with overhead gantry to support a light as well. This particular design lends itself to a flourescent light however as I intend to use this system myself in the long term the overhead gantry for the light is going to be about 500mm taller than I would normally build to accommodate a HID lamp as well. Equipped with a flourescent light this system would be ideal as a vegetative stage in a three stage system. As I like to combine my vegetative and nursery stages it will also have space provided for a cutting box. Our shopping list for this system was-

Frame Design
  • Hydroponic Tray
  • Nutrient Tank
  • Pump
  • 1m 19mm (3/4") Flexible Plastic Pipe
  • 3m 13mm (1/2") Flexible Plastic Pipe
  • 1m 4mm (3/16") Flexible Plastic Pipe
  • 1 X 13mm (1/2") Plug
  • 1 X 19mm (3/4") joiner
  • 1 X 13mm (1/2") 90 degree Elbow
  • 3 X Drippers
  • 3 X Pots
  • Aluminium Frame and Associated Joiners as Per Drawing
  • Grow Light
Before you do a single thing start measuring. The three major dimensions that have determined the specifications of my frame are the height of the tank, the length of the flourescent light and the width of the body of my hydroponic tray. The flouro light fitting is longer than my tray so it is the larger of the two dimensions, if you find yourself with a longer tray then it is the dimension you should use. Make a drawing of the frame and include your major dimensions so that you can use it to make a list of the required lengths of aluminium. As you can see by my sample drawing it does not have to be a work of art. We cant all be draftsmen and as long as you can read it that is all thats required.

Frame DesignWhen measuring the width of the tray we need to bear in mind that the tray has a lip around it that sits on top of the frame and supports it. The place to measure the tray is its widest point under this lip so that it will slide neatly into the frame and sit snugly. When there are plants, pots and media sitting in the tray it will need to support a reasonable amount of weight.

The Plastic Joiners slide inside the aluminium Tube
The plastic joiners slide inside the Aluminium Tube and can be easily dismantled later.
Assemble the Legs and Top
Connect the four way joiners to the legs. We may as well do the top junction while we're at it.

Complete assembling the legs
Complete assembling the legs by fitting the aluminium tubes that are the width of the tray.
Complete Assembling the Base
Join the two leg frames together to form the base.

Complete assembling the frame
Complete assembling the frame by fitting the four gantry legs and the overhead bar. The frame is now complete.
Insert 19mm joiner into Drain Pipe
Insert a 19mm joiner into the 19mm pipe to be used as a drain.